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Bears and canisters

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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:48 pm

rlown wrote:I know were talking mostly about bear cans here, but is there anything you all do espcially for your pack to make sure it's not taken at 2am? We had this happen once about 10 years ago up at Evelyn Lk; my friend left his toothbrush in the pack. Not sure if that's what prompted the bear to take it, as i think they also see a pack as a potential food source.
I've taken to tying off my pack frame to a tree or rock at night with my pot handle threaded through the rope to the pack. pile of rocks strategically placed outside the tent for thwarting such attempts.

Wow, having a pack move off in the middle of the night is a nightmare. I've never much worried about my pack, but I can say that I've had damage to the pack and other equipment done by smaller critters. While camped at Tower Lake (N. of Tower Peak, N Yosemite border) in 1987, chipmunks (we think) staged a series of attacks the first chewed on the scree guards of our boots (thence moved inside tent), then on the leather attachment grommets on our packs (thence also moved inside tent), and finally chewed leather wrist loops off of our two homemade walking sticks. On another occasion, some critter chewed on my boots that were supporting my pillow while sleeping out under the stars (1982, Smith L., Russian Wilderness); slept through the whole thing. The boots were so badly damaged I could barely hike out in them. The "move into tent" technique (for critter protection) works if you tend to use a generously sized tent (as I always do--my camp set up is aimed at in-camp comfort, rather than being super light on the hike).

Returning to the original post about storage capacity of bear cannisters and "excess" food, I've also tended to leave unopened freeze dried stuff outside of the cannister so as to prioritize cannister space for opened or ready-to-eat foods (if in fact it didn't all fit in the cannister). The stuff left out of the cannister is used to prop my pillow inside the tent. I have hiked with bear cannisters (Garcia in my case) ever since they were required. Perhaps because my trips never exceeded 9 days, capacity has not been too much of an issue, especially since the standard for my trips is for each person on the trip to have a cannister. The folks I hike with like the cannisters (as I do) because they double as very nice camp seats. In 43 years of backpacking I have never had a bear raid my camp, although I have had occasional critter problems. I have been camped at more popular places when bears have raided nearby campsites of other campers, though. One example I recall was when someone did not use the bear box at the outlet of East Lake (KCNP) one night, because he was too lazy to walk 300 yards or so to put his food away at night. The bear got all of his food and he had to go home on day 3 of what he had planned as a week plus long trip. This fellow had actually stored his food in the bear box the night before, but for some reason decided it would be OK to be lazy the next evening. It was clear from the prints we saw on the ground that the bear (or bears) very systematically inspected each campsite for unprotected food because nearly all of the occupied campsites, including ours, had paw prints through them.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html



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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:02 pm

giantbrookie wrote:Wow, having a pack move off in the middle of the night is a nightmare. I've never much worried about my pack, but I can say that I've had damage to the pack and other equipment done by smaller critters.


The good news is we heard the bear and jumped up in our skivvies and headlamps and chased it until it stopped and stared back at us, with the pack in it's mouth (maybe 200yds). We kinda pummelled it until it dropped the pack. Only one outside pocket ripped off (toothbrush pocket) and lots of bear slobber over the whole thing. I never sleep without a pile of small stones and weaving a rope through stuff i need on the trip.

I've never had trouble with the smaller critters. But, i do keep all my socks, boots in the tent as you indicated. Not sure why as they are very curious.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby Sierra Maclure » Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:39 pm

Am I the only one who uses an Ursack (or 2) with pots tied to it (for a bear signal) in areas where can's are not required? Of course, I'm discerning and judicious where I use them and have never had them molested, even when I saw a wild bear in the area. In places where it's still legal to hang and camp bears are highly unlikely, I've found the Ursack a great option. Just thought I'd throw this into the discussion. Anyone else had any luck or problems with the Ursack? PS. Don't call me an idiot.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby oldranger » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:38 pm

SM

I used Ursacks the last two years they were legal in in Yosemite. Of course a bear never entered our camp so the effectiveness is unknown. On one of the trips I also used a counterbalanced cache where counterbalancing was legal and in an area not frequented by campers. Again no sign that a bear even approached the cache let alone tried to get it. I am considering using one this summer where it is legal but may decide just to counterbalance as my two silnylon food bags weigh about 2 oz. each. Whenever I have used a canister bears have never entered my camp either. In fact the last time I had a bear in my camp was 1990 (knock on wood) when I was a ranger on horseback and camped at Vidette Meadow (horses pushed up above the drift fence that kept them out of Vidette). I described that experience on another thread. But I chased the bear off before it got anything and it never returned.

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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:43 pm

kinda interesting. I haven't had any bear trouble in about 10 years. maybe the canisters are doing their job as well as most backpackers. I remember near the Vogelsang backpackers camp when they had the poles up for you to hang your food, it was like bear mecca every night.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:30 pm

Sierra Maclure wrote:Am I the only one who uses an Ursack (or 2) with pots tied to it (for a bear signal) in areas where can's are not required? Of course, I'm discerning and judicious where I use them and have never had them molested, even when I saw a wild bear in the area. In places where it's still legal to hang and camp bears are highly unlikely, I've found the Ursack a great option. Just thought I'd throw this into the discussion. Anyone else had any luck or problems with the Ursack? PS. Don't call me an idiot.


I found this "recent" post for Seki on approved food storage: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/u ... ance-2.pdf

Ursack doesn't show up there yet.

If you do a search on Ursack in this forum, you'll find that several do own and have used them, where applicable; always best to check with the local authorities beforehand.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:27 am

I don't think Ursack will show up on anyone's website. It's not on the Inyo NF website but I've heard people have asked when getting a permit and they were allowed there. Best to call and talk to someone about it.

Sorry, jthomas, I don't believe for a hot second you weren't deliberately being offensive. If you were really that worried about civil liberties you would be spending your energy elsewhere instead of trolling a backpacking forum.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby gdurkee » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:17 am

Campers:

The Ursack is not approved for use as designed in either Yosemite or Sequoia Kings. You can use it as a sack to counter balance food (no different that a nylon sack, and where counter balancing is allowed) but you can't tie it to the base of a tree etc. as it recommends doing.

I can never remember where I tell my happy bear stories, so I might be repeating myself (oh, go ahead Uncle Grumpus, tell us another one!). The canisters have been tremendously effective over the last 15 years. In the Kearsarge area, for instance, foil & plastic in bear scat (this is your keen observer at work...) went from about > 40% of all scat in the mid-80s to less than 1% today. That's a combination of the boxes and canisters. There was a significant and measurable decrease in incidents with the introduction of each.

The last two years, there were only a few bear/food incidents in all of Bubbs/Kearsarge/Rae/Woods compared to probably 1/3 of all hikers losing some food in the mid-80s.

Which is all to say I"m a major fan of canisters. Where, statistically, a regulation can be shown to be effective, I'd say that's not an intrusion on liberties. Everyone here is right, it's to protect the bears and send them back to nuts and berries, which is what's happened as a direct result of the canisters.

I'd be interested to know where JT Carter was counter balancing and the number of times a bear attempted to get the hung food. The failure rate of hanging food where bears are conditioned to get it is huge -- probably around 80% no matter how well you hang it. They can shake the branch until one sack comes within reach; or break the branch; or even spend all night chewing through the branch. In areas where bears aren't on a learning curve (low density of bears), it'll work. But once they try to figure it out, they do.

Also, regarding your packs. If you leave them out, zippers & flaps open, you're almost always OK. Even if a bear takes it, they never go more than a couple of hundred feet with it to investigate (and maybe rip a pocket). Don't hang it (an invitation to take it) or sleep with it in a hammock (though a tent's probably OK, but not highly recommended).

g.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:52 pm

I slept with my pack under my feet in my hammock along the JMT and would do so again - but my hammock is not an open top model, it's fully bugnetted and I pitch a tarp over it - essentially the same as a two wall tent. Many hammockers do the same as the pack provides insulation under the feet when using a short underquilt. Bears hit every night and focused solely on the canisters - they did nothing but walk through the shelters on the way to the canisters. And we got up and shooed them away each time.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby snusmumriken » Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:02 pm

George - Good to hear that the bear incidents are down so much.
On the internet boards I frequent I hear lots of grumbling about the bear cannister. But out at the trail heads I mostly see people dutifully loading the cansnister into their packs. And it seems to be working - I think that's great. Always appreciate your posts here BTW, very informative.

AlmostThere wrote:I Bears hit every night and focused solely on the canisters - they did nothing but walk through the shelters on the way to the canisters. And we got up and shooed them away each time.

Almost There - was this a JMT hike you did this year? Or was this some time in the past?
I hiked the JMT with two friends this year. We spent 21 days in July going north to south and I'm happy to report we did not see any bears or indeed hear of anybody else along the trail who had any bear encounters at all. We had bear cannisters of course, and its hard to know if bears came through our camp while we were sleeping, but we didn't see any. What a different experience you had!
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby hikerduane » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:39 am

Last July, the morning I was leaving the bpers cg at TM, someone was yelling at a bear, I never saw it as it was still dark while I ate breakfast. On my Rae Lakes Loop trip, the second day out a bear was said to be in the lower Paradise Valley cg in the middle of the day, never saw that one either.
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Re: Bears and canisters

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:54 am

snusmumriken wrote:Almost There - was this a JMT hike you did this year? Or was this some time in the past?
I hiked the JMT with two friends this year. We spent 21 days in July going north to south and I'm happy to report we did not see any bears or indeed hear of anybody else along the trail who had any bear encounters at all. We had bear cannisters of course, and its hard to know if bears came through our camp while we were sleeping, but we didn't see any. What a different experience you had!


Last August we did a section from Yosemite down and got off the trail when it started to snow... that was a wild ride! Rangers were chasing bears in TM campground all day, and when we got on the trail a huge bear showed up that night at the far end of Lyell - he crept through camp, I heard him nudge my pot off a rock but not him! and we caught him with a flashlight licking one of the bear vaults. Yelling got him to leave. The next two nights we camped sufficient distance from the trail and not at any of the really beaten down overused campsites, and then we camped in the Ediza/Shadow drainage and were hit twice. One of us was sitting by the fire and the bear popped up over the end of the granite bench we were on, ten feet from her! she yelled and he ran. He came back for the canisters later. We had buried them in 10-20 lb granite flakes so we were able to hear him and get up to chase him off.

Rangers were warning us that a horse had broken its leg near Thousand Island lake and was shot there - they said it was drawing in the bears pretty bad. We didn't camp there for that reason.
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